Another warning about self-cleaning ovens

A couple of years ago I wrote about one person’s screed against self-cleaning ovens, an article that attracted a lot of comments on the subject. The post I took issue with was filled with hyperbole (“The self-clean button opens a portal to hell”) but lacked substance. I said pish-posh and stated that I would continue to use my self-cleaning oven (and I have without issue). Today Jenny alerted me to yet another article warning of the dangers of using the self-clean feature, and it made me rethink my position.

This article was written by an appliance repair professional, not by someone with a hyperbolic bent. The author says that one of the most common repair calls he receives comes after someone has used a oven’s self-cleaning function which then causes a malfunction of another component. It is true that the self-clean feature runs at an extremely high temperature – between 800 and 1000 degrees Fahrenheit – and that heat can certainly damage sensitive electrical parts and even heating elements themselves.

I have read about people defeating the safety lock and using the self-cleaning cycle to allow their ovens to approach temperatures similar to those in wood-fired brick ovens, just so they could make ‘professional’ pizza. As much as I have appreciated the convenience of not having to clean my oven the old-fashioned way, I never considered this to be a good idea, unless your goal was to get third-degree burns or burn down your house. This is why we have warning labels on everything – because someone just HAD to say “hold my beer and watch this!”

But I digress. Another thing to consider when using self-cleaning function is the amount of energy it uses – one estimate I read is that a single cleaning cycle can use nearly as much energy as a month’s worth of average baking! That, of course, would depend on how frequently you use your oven. I am confident that I use my oven more than than the average person so that is unlikely to be true for me, but nonetheless I must admit that the self-cleaning feature is a huge energy suck.

After reading all of the horror stories from people who have received a huge repair bill after a self-cleaning cycle, feel like I am pushing my luck every time I press the CLEAN button. I have used it on my current oven a dozen times or so in the seven years I have owned it, and so far no issues. I do not consider myself to be a lucky person (I purchased a five-year subscription to Fine Cooking just two months before they announced that they would cease publication), so it might be time to quit while I’m ahead.

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  • GenieB  on  May 31, 2022

    Never thought about the energy use angle! Rarely use the self-cleaning feature anyway — we are vegan so don’t cook roasts, etc. which leave grease on the oven walls. Mostly I use the stove’s oven for baking, which I don’t do that often anymore since we are only 2.

    For other things, like roasting vegetables, I use my countertop oven which is plenty big for 2 people. It doesn’t heat up the house so much and it is easy to clean.

    The last time I cleaned the stove’s oven, I just wiped it down with a damp cloth which took care of it.

  • Rinshin  on  June 1, 2022

    I use self clean feature once a year when weather is warmer so all windows can be opened to dissipate noxious smell which irritates me due to asthma. I’ve had my oven for almost 20 years and never had problems using the function. We have solar and I just checked how much kWH it was generating. Between 12 to 3Pm, it was generating over 5.5 KWH for a total of over 16 kWH for 3 hr period so I will not worry about self cleaning function usage of kWH.

  • charjoy  on  June 3, 2022

    I was also a proponent of the self-cleaning feature. However, in May 2018, we were getting ready to remodel our kitchen. We plan to re-install our existing KitchenAid oven, as it was only a few years old. I decided to clean it one last time before it was deinstalled. It blew out the electronics control panel and parts were very hard to come by, such that it would’ve thrown off the whole remodel timeline. The good news is that I got a new oven! However, the appliance repair/installation person told me that it is not a good feature to use on a regular basis. I also do not cook meats and so forth, only fish, vegetables, and regular baking. So the less intensive cleaning methods, such as a baking soda paste, seem to work fine for me. Once burned, twice shy!

  •  on  June 3, 2022

    Looks like I will have to cross my fingers every time I push the Self Clean button!

  • Micklin  on  June 4, 2022

    Would this also be applicable to “professional” home ranges? I have an 18 year old Thermador that I’ve used that feature on many more than 18x.

  • jehausman  on  June 5, 2022

    The self-clean feature fried the control panel on my 8 year old Kitchenaid. The repair man couldn’t find parts to replace — told me to buy a new oven and NEVER use the self-clean feature. I warned a friend, but she went ahead and self-cleaned her oven — guess what happened?

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